Official approves duplexes, cuts units Reisterstown neighbors, developer both object to ruling, may appeal

September 10, 1996|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County hearing officer has approved plans for the Goldsborough Manor development of duplex homes just off Reisterstown's historic Main Street -- on the condition that developers eliminate six of the 66 planned units.

Hearing officer Lawrence E. Schmidt ruled that some units should be cut out of the plan and other units moved to soften the development's impact on neighboring homeowners.

"I believe that this alternative protects adjacent properties without destroying the symmetry and design of the [Goldsborough Manor] community," Schmidt wrote in a nine-page opinion issued Friday.

But Schmidt's decision was not welcomed by either side in the dispute over the planned project.

Developers Howard Brown and Virginia Goldsborough Schuster want to build a community of $170,000 duplexes attached back-to-back. The county has designated the development, which features tightly clustered houses and narrow streets, as "neo-traditional." That designation allows the units to be built closer to the edge of the property.

Rebecca G. Riegel, president of the Northwest Reisterstown Community Association, which has argued that the project's density should be reduced, said the order would not reduce the proposed development's effect on its neighbors.

"I see what he was trying to do. It just didn't work," said Riegel, who added that her group probably will appeal the ruling to the Baltimore County Board of Appeals.

Julius W. Lichter, a lawyer representing the developers said: "Obviously, I don't like the cut in the number of units."

He said his clients would study whether the scaled-back project remains economically feasible before deciding whether to appeal the ruling.

Complicating matters further is a petition, filed by Riegel's organization, for more restrictive zoning for the proposed development. The County Council is to vote on that rezoning request next month.

In June, Schmidt withheld approval of the project and sent the plans back to county planners for more study. Schmidt said the project met zoning requirements, but was so unusual that county planners should determine whether it is compatible with nearby homes and businesses.

County planners then called for 12 units to be moved farther from the development's borders -- a change that seemed certain to require the elimination of some of the proposed units. Planners said some planned units were too large and too close to existing homes.

In his opinion ordering the elimination and shifting of some units, Schmidt wrote that the change "will promote a sense of open space and vista from the adjacent properties and will also prevent the appearance of an unbroken wall and a continuous building."

Pub Date: 9/10/96

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